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PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Philadelphia officials have banned the sale of sodas throughout the public school system, a move nutrition experts said on Thursday would help guard children against obesity.
The Philadelphia School District decided late on Wednesday to end the sale of carbonated sodas in vending machines and lunch rooms. Starting July 1, schools must sell fruit juice, water, milk and flavored milk drinks instead.
Philadelphia, with about 214,000 students, is the second major U.S. school district to adopt such a policy.
Last year New York City banned soda as well as candy and sweet snacks from vending machines in its system, the largest in the United States.
Some California school districts curb soda sales but their policies are not as strict as those in Philadelphia and New York, said Sandy Sherman, a nutrition educator at The Food Trust, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit group.
"There is not a good reason for soda to be sold in schools," said Sherman, whose group lobbied for the ban. "It contributes to obesity, type-2 diabetes and dental cavities, and displaces milk drinking."
The American Academy of Pediatrics this month urged all school districts to restrict soda sales to reduce the risk of obesity. Each 12-ounce serving of the average soda contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar.
More than 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. In 2000, 38.8 million Americans or 31 percent of the adult population were classified as obese, meaning their health was seriously at risk.